Two days after the Senate Judiciary Committee
passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)
promised that U.S. taxpayers would not bear the cost of healthcare coverage for undocumented immigrants who are on the path to citizenship.
Earlier reports had hinted that the coverage provisions under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
might be a sticking point as House members draft their own immigration-reform legislation. Not so, Pelosi said during her weekly news conference on Thursday, adding that undocumented immigrants would not have access to Medicaid. The California Democrat said the country must have comprehensive immigration form, and that legislation must protect the nation's borders, workers and taxpayers.
“We said it in the Affordable Care Act, and we say it here again—that undocumented people will not have access to subsidies under the Affordable Care Act,” Pelosi said. “Any representation to the contrary is simply not true. It's stated very clearly in the Affordable Care Act. It is our position on the immigration bill: no access to subsidies in the Affordable Care Act,” she said. “Secondly, no access to Medicaid. No cost to the taxpayer—that has always been the Democratic position.”
Pelosi did not mention other federal healthcare programs, such as Medicare and the Children's Health Insurance Program.
When asked about emergency-care services for this population, Pelosi referred to the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, the 1986 law that requires hospitals to care for patients regardless of their legal status, citizenship or ability to pay. That law would remain “untouched” by any immigration-reform efforts, Pelosi said.Follow Jessica Zigmond on Twitter: @MHjzigmond